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The history of the Parish

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1888                       St Michaels Church built at Poroutawhao


1896                       Kuku Church built on SH1


1898                       St. Andrews Church built Mako Mako Rd


1904                       Moved from Palmerston North Parish to Otaki                                 Parish


1914                       Fathers Delarc and Melu bought 10 acres in                                     Weraroa Road - the site of the present                                               Church, Presbytery, Convent and School


1920                       Levin Parish formed. St Josephs Convent                                           School opened in February with 67 pupils.                                       Sisters of St Joseph lived in Mako Mako Rd


1923                       New Convent built in Weraroa Rd


1935                       Catholic Tennis Club formed


1954                       St Josephs Hall built in Durham Street


1956                       Parish, formerly known as St Andrews, was                                       renamed St Josephs. New St Josephs                                               Church built by Monsignor W. Heavey in                                           Weraroa Rd. It was blessed and opened in                                       September by Archbishop McKeefry


1957                       First and only Debutante Ball held in the Parish


1958                       Home and School Association formed


1958                       Old St Andrews Church moved to Waitarere                                     Beach


1958/59                 New Presbytery built in Weraroa Rd to replace                                 the old residence in Mako Mako Rd.


1961                       Planned Giving introduced into the Parish


1962                       Land bought in East Levin for possible future                                   Secondary School


1963                       New Convent built in Weraroa Rd. beside the                                   Church


1967                       Parish Council formed


1969                       Ecumenical Meeting held in Levin


1970                       Fiftieth Jubilee of St. Josephs Parish


1980                       Sixtieth Jubilee of the Parish. Extensive                                            Church renovations carried out


1983                       The Convent School and the Parish Hall were                                   both integrated into the State School                                               system. Extensive work was done, mainly with                                   volunteer labour, to make them both                                                 acceptable to the Education Dept


1984                       Rite of Christian Instruction of Adults (R.C.I.A.)                                 programme begun


1993                       St. Andrews Church at Waitarere Beach sold


1994                       Sisters of St. Joseph left the Convent building                                 for a smaller residence in the town


1998                       Change of Diocese from Wellington to                                             Palmerston North mooted



Because correctly recorded history does not change, we take the liberty of reproducing this account of those early years. We are indebted to the compilers of the 50th jubilee booklet for their excellent account.


Levin's history as a separate parish does not commence until 1920, but the church was active in the district long before that time. Until 1904 Levin, along with Foxton, was part of the Palmerston North Parish. In that year it was severed from Palmerston North and attached to Otaki, and was in the care of priests engaged in missionary work among the Maori people.


The first Catholic Church in this district was St Michaels, built by the Rev. Father Melu, SM. It was blessed and opened on January 3, 1888. It was situated on the ridge, at Poroutawhao, just opposite the Waitarere turn-off. The road from Levin passes through a cutting in the hill just before reaching the turn-off.


At that time the Catholics in this district were predominantly Maori, and the building of St Michaels was due to the zeal of Father Melu, SM.


Archbishop Viard performed the ceremony of blessing and opening the church. About fifty Pakeha and many Maori came from the surrounding districts, and a Maori party, accompanied by their pastor, Father Soulas, came all the way from Jerusalem, on the Whanganui River.



The firing of muskets by the Maori signalled the arrival of the Archbishop. A beautiful, decorated arch with banners flying and bearing the word "WELCOME" had been erected 50 yards from the Church.


A long flax carpet, made especially for the occasion, and lined on both sides with roses and evergreens, was laid from the arch to the Maori Church, and along it the Archbishop, Priests and visitors walked in procession.


After the ceremony Father Melu read an address to the Archbishop in Maori. The Rev. Father Soulas translated into French for His Grace, the Archbishop.


In a large meetinghouse, 60 Pakeha sat down to a fine dinner, which the Maori had provided, prepared and served in a manner that won unstinted praise from all the visitors. After dinner, Father Melu showed the visitors Maori taonga, and they spent some time examining old Maori fortifications.


The singing of the Maori choir at the morning and evening services was pleasing and inspiring; qualities that spoke well for the training abilities of Father Melu.


As the settlement of Levin developed, the Catholics attended St Michael's for some time until a hall was available in Levin.


About 1896 Father Melu had the Kuku (St Stephens) church built. Other priests also attended to the spiritual life of the Maori. Prominent among them was Father Delach, a pastor beloved by them for his holiness. When finally he left Otaki large numbers of Maori gathered to farewell him at the station. Many wept and horsemen galloped alongside the departing train calling out their fond farewells.



In the late 1890's it was apparent St Michaels Church was too far away for Levin residents, so a half acre site in Mako Mako Rd on the second block on the left from the main road (facing west) was procured. It was thought to have been donated by Mr Bartholomew - a well known saw miller in the district. Built by Messrs Dan and Charlie Nees of Manakau, the new church was blessed and opened by Archbishop Redwood SM on 4 September 1898 and dedicated to the Apostle St Andrew. In the same year Father Ginaty SM conducted a mission in Levin. The response must have been encouraging because the Vincentian Fathers were engaged to conduct a Mission in the Town Hall the following year.


Until 1904, Levin, along with Foxton, was part of the Palmerston North Parish. In 1904 Levin was severed from Palmerston North and attached to Otaki parish. In 1920 Levin was made a separate Parish. Rev. Fr. O'Burne returned for a few months until Rev. Fr. Fitzgibbon took office as the first regular Parish Priest.


Over the next three and a half decades St Andrews served the needs of the Parish. Average baptisms per year were 15 until 1946 when post war development began in the area, and the number rose to 26. By 1960 there were 82 baptisms a year.


A new Church, St Josephs, was opened in 1956 in Weraroa Rd next to the convent, and in 1958 Master Builders, Levin, together with working bees of parishioners, removed the roof of St Andrews church and made the building ready for its shift to a section in Park Avenue, Waitarere Beach, to cater for the needs of the Parish in that area. The actual shift was carried out on 3 February 1958.

st andrews at makomako road.jpg

The problem of having two "St Andrews" one Catholic and one Presbyterian was at last overcome. There are stories of wedding guests travelling to Levin turning up at the "wrong" St Andrews with resultant confusion.



On March 2nd 1956, Archbishop P.T.B. McKeefry laid the foundation stone of St Josephs Church in Weraroa Road. It was designed by Mr J.T. Craig and built by Master Builders (Levin) at a cost of just under £50,000.


The church was blessed and opened six months later, on September 2nd, by Archbishop McKeefry. The first two masses that day were celebrated at St Andrews Church in Mako Mako Rd and the third mass, in the new Church, by the Archbishop, assisted by Bishop Kavanagh D.D.


The new church incorporated a Maori Chapel, featuring Tukutuku reed panels woven by Muaupoko Iwi. The chapel was finished in 1978 when a wooden surround, carved by Brian Lacey, Whiwhi and Don Winiata, with the Kowhaiwhai rafter pattern painted by Ben Winiata, was installed.


The theme behind the carving is twofold. The Korupe (the horizontal piece across the top) denotes "A house of worship for everyone" and the styles of carving used are from as many areas as possible. Starting from the cross in the centre, the first figure is in the style common to the central North Island, the second is Hauraki, the third is Taranaki and the end figure is Gisborne/East Cape area, while above is a North Auckland figure.


The Whakawae (the upright sides) start with a figure holding up the Korupe so they are "upholders of the faith". Next is the fishnet and feather design. This is 'Te Huia Raukura - the gathering of the plumes' and indicates the Muaupoko. Below, the congregation are all supported on the large mask at the bottom, which represents the Raukawa people. The left Whakawae has carved figures representing the five priests who were in charge of the Levin Parish up to the opening of this church, Fathers Fitzgibbon, Butler, Breen, Lynch, and Monsignor Heavey. On the right Whakawae a number of figures represent those of the congregation who are of Maori descent.


One of the stories of this chapel recalled the occasion one winter in the late 1950's. The parish workers in the chapel asked Monsignor Heavey could they have the radio on to listen to the rugby test in Auckland. He did not think it was appropriate, but as the workers hinted they might go "on strike" he reluctantly agreed.


History does not record the expression on his face when the words of All Black Peter Jones after match comment. "I'm b…d" boomed through the church!


The Chapel has been a feature of the church and is used constantly.


It was noted in the Josephs Journal, December 1988, that there had been an increase in the Mass attendance of 70 on the previous years count. There had also been 75 baptisms, 15 marriages and 31 funerals for 1988.



Many parishioners made gifts to the new church, both of money and in kind. The following list of furnishings is not complete as the practice of the time was not in favour of plaques recording the name of the donor being placed with the gifts.




           Tabernacle                           Cloe & Ivan Glucina

           Crucifix over Altar               Colonel E.R. & Mrs Winkler

           Baptismal Font                    McMinn family

           Altar Rails                             May & Henry Kilsby

           Ciborium                              David & Kath Kilsby

           Chalice                                 Ernie & Flo Ward

           Monstrance                          Enright Family

           Sanctuary Lamp                   unknown

           Thurible                                could also be from St Andrews

           Crucifix                                 Les McDonald Memorial

           Stations of The Cross          Sandy & Eileen Thompson and                                                           Clare Whelan

           Marble Altar                         Jack O'Connor

           Organ and Pipes                 Joe Barnao

           Stained Glass Window       Elsie & Dick Ryder

           Gold Chalice                       Clare Gimblett Memorial

           Gold carpets & drapes       Tom Fahey

           Red carpet in Sanctuary     Norm & Rosalie Guscott

           Presidential Chair                Mrs Ellen O'Donnell

           Sacred Heart Statue            Maurice Sanders

           Marble top for side Altar    Bernard & Maureen Zeinert

           Gold Chalice                        Walter Ryder

           Sacred Heart Statue            May & Henry Kilsby   

                (white cloak)

           Benediction Cope               Marie Carmody

           Piano                                    Kaye Griffin


We record these generous gifts to the parish, with appreciation to the donors.



Over the last eighty-four years there have been fifteen Parish Priests. The longest serving was Rev. Fr J. Lynch who, following a period as a relieving priest (1926-27) was Parish Priest from 1935 till 1952, a total of nearly eighteen years. He was a scholarly man, well liked, but with a tendency to give long sermons, some lasting over an hour.


Other long-term priests were:


     Monsignor W. J. Heavey          Six years nine months

     Rev. Fr J. Cashman                   Seven years

     Rev. Fr. D. Moosman                Seven years


Following is the list of the clergy who served in the parish, all of whom contributed in their various ways, and are remembered fondly by those to whom they ministered.


     Rev. Fr. M. O'Beirne (PP)                 May-June 1920 Relieving

     Rev. Fr. M. Fitzgibbon (PP)              July 1920 -1926

     Rev. Fr. E.J. Lynch

     Rev. Fr. P. E. Fallon (ADM)               1927

     Rev. Fr. J. Butler (PP)                        1927 - 1930

     Rev. Fr. P. Breen (PP)                        1931 - 1934

     Rev. Fr. E. J. Lynch (PP)                    1935 - 1952

     Rev. Fr. D. O'Neill                            Relieving

     Monsignor W. J. Heavey (PP)          1953 - 1959

     Rev. Fr. B. Kenny                               1956 - 1957

     Rev. Fr. J. Mutch                               1958 - 1959

     Rev. Fr. S. Lorrigan (PP)                    1960 - 1962

     Rev. Fr. J. Kelly                                  1960 - 1962

     Rev. Fr. F.P. Garty (PP)                       1962 - 1966

     Rev. Fr. T. Hannigan                          1963 - 1965

     Rev. Fr. D. Heslin                               1963 - 1967

     Rev. Fr. C. Donoghue                       1966 - 1967

     Rev. Fr. V.D. Callaghan (PP)              1967 - 1968

     Rev. Fr. M.J. Keegan                         1968 - 1972

     Rev. Fr. D.M. Orange                        1968 - 1970

     Rev. Fr. E. Cashman (PP)                   1969 - 1976

     Rev. Fr. P.J. Fahy                                1971 - 1972

     Rev. Fr. M.G. Madden                       1973 - 1975

     Rev. Fr. J.F. Murphy                           1972 - 1974

     Rev. Fr. J.T. Parry                                1975

     Rev. Fr. B.J. Edwards                         1976

     Rev. Fr. S. O'Dowd                            1976

     Rev. Fr. K.B. O'Sullivan (PP)               1977 - 1978

     Rev. Fr. M.D. Lloyd                             1977 - 1978

     Rev. D.M. Moosman (ADM & PP)     1979 - 1987

     Monsignor J.B. Durham                    1981 - 1987

     Rev. Fr. M.J. McCabe                         1987 - 1991

     Rev. Fr. A.M. Roberts (PP)                  1987 - 1994

     Rev. Fr. B. England (PP)                      1995 - 2001

     Rev. Fr. P. Darroch (PP)                       2002 -



St Josephs School was opened in February 1920 with three schoolrooms and a roll of sixty-seven pupils. The Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth (Wanganui), which had originally been formed in Australia in 1880 for the purpose of teaching and visitation of the poor and the sick, staffed the school.


The original Convent was in a house in Mako Mako Road. This became the Presbytery when the nuns moved to their new Convent in Weraroa Road in 1923.


The foundation Sisters were:

     Sister Mary Patricia

     Sister Mary Sylvester

     Sister Mary Clare

     Sister Mary Bega


Lay staff were also present at the school by this time. Nola Corbett was the first lay teacher and was there for many years.


In 1953 two more classrooms were added to the school, and the Parish Hall was built in the following year. The Home and School Association was formed in 1958 and parents helped with further improvements, including a sixth classroom in 1960 and a swimming pool in 1964.


A new, purpose built, two story convent, with its own Chapel, was built in 1963. Further improvements to the school over the next two decades included a new entrance from Durham Street, a staff room and more classrooms.


Just as this booklet was going to print, another significant milestone was marked on St Joseph's Day, (19 March 2006). After Mass schoolchildren, staff and parishioners walked in procession from the church to the new administration block of the school, where the statue of St Joseph was officially installed. The statue had previously resided in the old convent that has served as a temporary administration block for the school for a number of years. After the old convent is demolished, a special memorial garden is to be established in memory of the tremendous contribution of the Sisters of St Joseph on the site of the old chapel. The remaining area will house 14 small gardens, depicting the Stations of the Cross. The Parish and school exchanged the convent and land for the area covering the entrance from Durham St to the school in 2000.


In September 1970, as a result of the voting at the meeting of parents of standard 4 children at St Josephs Primary School it was decided to retain Forms 1 and 2.


For many years the Home & School Association worked with the school to run an annual fete, which was a major fundraiser for the school. The Works Committee worked for years doing many tasks as required by the school and the parish. Many of the group were Knights of the Southern Cross. The biggest task was the building of the school swimming pool, which took many hours and is a great monument to the dedication of this group, as was the upgrading of the parish hall. In 1981 there was a general upgrading in preparation for integration into the State School system and the parish hall was transferred to the school. Since then three more classrooms and a Learning Centre (now the Parish Centre) were added.


The Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth relinquished their staffing of the school in 1984. It is now staffed by lay teachers and controlled by a Board of Trustees. The Home and School Association became the Board of Trustees in 1981 just prior to integration.


The Sisters of St Joseph left the convent in the mid 1990's, but are still active in the parish.


A story from St Joseph's School by Joan Coote (St Josephs School 1974 - 2000):

"When I started, the teachers cleaned their own classrooms. At the end of term the floorboards had to be polished. So we put the polish on and some of the children put old socks and rags on their feet and skated around the floor to buff it up. We had no staff room or staff toilet and had to go in through the convent garage to use the toilet. We had almost no contact with other primary schools in Levin."


School bottle drives:


In 1975 and 1976, bottle drives were done to raise money for the Building Fund. Each one was organised so that East side and West side were done about 3 weeks or a month apart. People gave generously of their time to support these drives. In 1975 $1285 was raised and in 1976 we raised $863.



School Fete:


A break of 4 years from the annual Fete was ended when the Knights of the Southern Cross were responsible for re-activating the St Josephs School Gala in February 2003. This gala concluded with a profit of over $8000. The Knights helped the school to organise the 2004 gala, and although bad weather dampened things down a bit, $8600 profit was recorded. Hopefully the Gala will be a permanent fixture from now on.

school staff 1988.jpg

St Joseph's School Staff 1988



The Parish Golden Jubilee celebrations centred round the weekend of the 20th, 21st and 22nd of February 1970. There was a social gathering held on Friday night, an official welcome to Cardinal McKeefry on Saturday followed by Mass, reminiscences, Jubilee dinner and another social. On the Sunday a second Jubilee Mass was held.


An excellent booklet was produced under the guidance of Gwen Hesp and Joan Sellars. There is a thought-provoking foreword from Cardinal McKeefry, in the booklet, which ends with these words: "As we see and enjoy the fruit of their (the early parishioners) labours, we must ask ourselves if our faith is as strong, and if our efforts are commensurate with theirs. The Jubilee is a tribute to success accomplished, but what of the future? God grant that all will express their gratitude by resolving to emulate those whose labours are being honoured".


In 2001 as we move into the third millennium this passage from the Cardinal is just as relevant and challenging to us thirty years later.



Known parishioners of St Andrews Parish, Levin, as it was named at that time, who gave their lives in World War 11, are as follows:


     Les McDonald

     Keith Whitehouse

     John Sievers

     Doug McMinn

     Herbet Charet


The three men were pupils of St Josephs Convent School Levin. Keith was Dux in 1933. Les and Keith both worked for Prevost Bros Woolbuyers Wellington, and became pilots in the RAF and RNZAF respectively during World War 11.


Les was killed on 13 January 1941 and Keith was killed on 25 July 1944. A memorial crucifix and plaque for Flying Officer Les McDonald, which was donated by his friends, is mounted in St Joseph's sacristy.


Kevin also became an RNZAF pilot. After the war, he was President of NZ Woolbuyers Association. He resides in Hastings.


The above photograph was taken by a street photographer in Lambton Quay, Wellington in 1938, and contributed by Noel Whitehouse, May 2005.

war veteran.jpg

Walking in Lambton Quay

       From left - Kevin McDonald, Les McDonald and Keith           Whitehouse



With the opening, in 1956, of the new St Josephs Church in Weraroa Road a decision was made to move the old St Andrews Church.


Early in 1958 the firm of Master Builders Ltd together with working bees made up of parish men, removed the roof and made the building ready to shift. The sixteen ton, fifty-four foot truckload took four hours to move from its site in Mako Mako Rd to Waitarere Beach, where it was placed on a section in Park Ave. The roof was then replaced and the rest of the building extensively renovated and painted by voluntary labour from Levin and Waitarere.


On Sunday 21st December 1958, St Andrews Church Waitarere was blessed and opened, and Mass was celebrated by Rev. Monsignor McCrae. In his sermon Mons McCrae referred to the new "Mass Centre" as a "spiritual powerhouse offering the means of salvation to all with the grace to receive it."


Mass was offered every Sunday at Waitarere till about 1977, when, because of a drop off in attendance, the church was only used for the holiday periods of Christmas and Easter.


During the intervening years at Waitarere, salt spray and sand took their toll, and in 1972, during Fr Cashman's time as Parish Priest, the roofing iron was renewed and painted. In Fr. O'Sullivan's time (1977-1978) members of the Knights of the Southern Cross overlaid the outside walls with fibrolite. The Knights returned again about 1985 under the stewardship of Fr Moosman, and repainted the interior, the window frames and the timber on the outside.


The last Mass was celebrated at Waitarere in 1989 and St Andrews Church was sold in 1993 for $24,000 to a Wellington family who now use it as a holiday home.



The Parish Hall was built in 1953/54 on the Durham St boundary by Mr Harvey with much help from parish volunteers, and the Works Committee of the parish. It was transferred to the school in 1983 as part of the integration of the school into the State education system. Many other properties were also held by the parish, either from donation by parishioners, or bought in anticipation of further growth.


Following is an incomplete list of land owned at one time or another by the parish either from donation or purchase.



  • Land in Weraroa Road - Honora Hannan

  • Land off Tiro Tiro Road - Mr. M. Ryder

  • Buller Road - Bradley property



  • 20 acres in Queen Street for a possible future Catholic Girls College (later sold)

  • Three and a half acres, plus a house in Bartholomew Road, for a church and presbytery (later sold)

  • A section in Balmoral Street, for a church (later sold)

  • Two sections at Waitarere Beach, on to one of which the old St Andrews church was shifted (later sold)

  • A section at Hokio Beach for a church (later sold)


There were many bequests over the years. An incredibly generous one was from the Dalton Estate. From a total of $170,000, one third was for the Missions, one third went to the Palmerston North Hospital Board, who used it to erect a chapel at the Horowhenua Hospital, and one third went to St Josephs Church.


During the heavy growth period of Levin in the 1960's Mass centres were established in the East School Assembly Hall, and the Assembly of God building in the early 1970's, with large congregations. Diminishing attendance and improved transport saw these no longer needed by the mid 1970's.



The only Catholic Presentation Ball in the history of the parish was on Friday, July 12th 1957, in the Memorial Hall, Levin. An energetic committee of men and women organised this successful venture, with numerous sub-committees to help. Mrs Jocelyn Whitehouse trained the debutantes.


An extract from the Levin Chronicle of the day says, "In one of the most impressive ceremonies of its kind during the current Ball season, thirteen debutantes made their curtsey before His Grace Archbishop P. T. B. McKeefry at the Horowhenua Roman Catholic Presentation Ball on Friday."


The thirteen debutantes were Misses:


Ann Lamb                    Eileen Hesp                      Tiripa Tukupua

Dawn O'Dea               Dianna Bowater               Nora Lambie

Ann Jeffries                 Beverly Conley                 Jennifer Nees

Carol Moriarty             Maureen Phair                 Patricia McCashin

Jill Bowater

ball 1.jpg
ball 2.jpg

Front and Back of the Ball invitations



The years have seen changing patterns of Church groups and activities, which mirror the changes taking place amongst us and our community. Perhaps the meeting in 1969 in Levin's Memorial Hall, chaired by Noel Whitehouse between such unlikely disciples as Canon Joblin (Anglican), Conrad Bollinger, avowed atheist, and Rev. Fr. Ashby (Catholic Church), was a forerunner of the ecumenical changes which we see in our Catholic society today reflected in the changes in Church activities and organisations.


Some of the organisations in the Parish have stood the test of time, others have outlived the reason for which they were instituted and have faded away.


Children of Mary Society


From approximately 1935 this was a popular society for young single women who joined in their early teens. They were a common sight at mass on one Sunday of every month in their light blue cloaks (white for postulants), and there are memories of the ceremony of removing their cloak in front of the statue of Our Lady on the day they were married. The bride would have a Child of Mary cloak placed on her shoulders by the President before entering the Church on the arm of her father. Then a special blessing was followed before she was "de"cloaked.


The society went into recess about 1961.


Legion of Mary


Rev. Fr. Lynch began the Legion in Levin in 1936. The group met initially at Miss Fitzgibbon's house in Salisbury Street and were active in visiting and helping the bereaved. It went into recess in the late seventies, at which time the meetings were being held at Mrs Keegan's home.

Catholic Women's League


The Levin Branch joined the National body in mid 1955. Their motto is "Faith and Service". The first President was Mrs Louise Lambie, and over the years the League has been active in the Parish - raising money for the Missions as well as being a spiritual and physical presence in the Parish assisting the bereaved, the sick and the needy.


Homemakers Circle


A homemakers circle was formed about 1958 to cater for the younger mothers of the League. Their main aim was to offer help, friendship and encouragement to each other and to new mothers in the parish. Sadly that circle went into recess some years ago.


Opportunity Shop


The local opportunity shop was the brainchild of the Catholic Women's League. Marie Vaney (Chairperson) and Pauline Boyle (Secretary) invited all the major churches to the first meeting on 1st October 1974. Four churches decided to go ahead and donated $30 towards the initial rent. The shop opened 5th November 1974, and the takings on the first day were $186. The profit for St Josephs averages $1000 per year. Another bonus has been the spirit in which all the churches have worked together - ecumenism in action.


Meals on Wheels


The Palmerston North Hospital Board initiated the meals on wheels service on 3rd November 1962. By 1989 thirty-seven organisations provided driving services. Between January and November 1989, 15,637 meals were delivered.


The Society of St Vincent de Paul


The Levin branch was formed in 1910. The first President was Mr R. McDonald but the group went into recess in 1916, probably due to the disruptions of the First World War. It re-formed in 1926, went into recess again in 1933, and restarted in 1959. Originally there were separate men and women's groups, but by 1969 they were combined in one group. A tireless worker in that first decade was Mrs Olive Foote.


The works of the Society were varied. Their work was visiting the sick and the bereaved, delivering food, even becoming entertainers giving small concerts in the War Veterans Home. In 1979 the Society sponsored a large refugee Cambodian family - the Parish providing the house and money - the Society the day-to-day help.


Since 1958 the following people have been President:

Mrs O. Foote, Mrs S. Day, Messrs J. Jeffries, J. Casey, A. Lynch, J. Cameron, P. Curran, K. Vaney, C. Foster, D. Connolly, P. Drumm, Anne Hayward. The Society still carries out its work in the parish and community, as efficiently and unobtrusively as ever.


The Holy Name Society


The Society is thought to have begun in the parish in 1948, but faded into recession about 1972. It was comprised of Catholic men and was formed to promote respect for, and devotion to, the Holy Name of Jesus at a time when the world seemed to be forgetting Him entirely. It also gave a sense of fellowship to men with a common ideal, which was an excellent idea in the post war period.


The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults


Following a directive from Cardinal Tom Williams in 1993, discussions took place between Fr Des. Moosman, Sister Mary Dunne and Marie Vaney regarding the commencement of the R.C.I.A. After perusing many books on the subject (most of which were American and therefore not entirely suitable) they subsequently decided upon the book "I Know You Are Near" with which to run the programme. Father Alan Roberts wrote this with much help and encouragement from Father David Orange, while both were co-pastors in Wainuiomata Parish.


Father Roberts later became our Parish Priest and published a revised edition in 1991. Mike Walker of Morrow Productions supplied all the photographs and most of the "stars" in these photographs were parishioners of St Josephs Levin.


A team was established in late 1983 and early 1984 and the first programme commenced (with great guidance and inspiration from the Holy Spirit) in June/July 1984, culminating in the reception of eight candidates at Easter 1985. The programme has been run each year until 1994. It went into recess in 1995 because there were no candidates. It was recommenced in 1996 but unfortunately has not been held since then in spite of great efforts having been made to find parishioners prepared to run the programme. During the years it has run, over forty people have been received into our parish community.


The involvement of the team running the programme each year (approximately 20 people in 1984) by way of time, talent and energy is massive involving attendance at two meetings a week over a ten month period each year. However most people so involved have found it a very rewarding and faith fulfilling experience.


C.C.D. 1960 - 1970


The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was developed as a means of bringing Catholic teaching to the Catholic children who, for some reason or other (distance, family etc.) were being educated in State Schools.


In Levin the classes were held in the evening at the Convent school and comprised pupils from surrounding schools at primary and secondary levels. Pupil numbers reached 350 (Convent roll 210). It was a huge commitment for the parish, not only for the volunteer teachers but also the back-up resources, i.e. helpers to prepare the programmes, and the large numbers of car drivers who ferried children from home (often many Kms away) to the Convent school and home again. The commitment of these parishioners was impressive and it showed the great need for education of these young people. In a way it was the last big effort by the church to hold the young people to the faith.


In the seventies, the lack of resources and support, and the logistic problems that arose, became too great for the effort to be sustained, and the whole organisation was closed down. The modern day equivalent is the Children's Liturgy, carried on by a dedicated few during the 9am Mass on Sundays.


Parish Council


The first Parish Council was formed in 1967. The first Chairman was Mr B. Cullinane. Over the years the organization has had a chequered career with name changes such as Pastoral Team, Parish Leadership Team and back to Parish Council.


Youth Club


Fr. Kelly, an Irish boxing champion, who just missed selection for the 1959 Lions rugby tour of New Zealand, started the Youth Club. In 1960 - 61 the Youth Club was based in the old Regent Theatre building. Its aim was to keep youths off the streets.


A volunteer network of parents and well wishers provided an indoor basketball court, table tennis tables, pool tables and a jukebox. The club remained active for four to six years before waning. It was temporarily revitalized for a few years, in the Parish hall by Rev. Father Orange.

Liturgy Group


This was formed around 1980 but did not become fully functional until 1982 under Sister John Bosco and an original committee of Mrs Jocelyn Whitehouse, Mrs Beverly Foubister, and Messrs Raff Sannazarro and Ted Griffin. The Second Rite of Reconciliation was introduced, banners and visual aids were used, and lay people were involved in writing the prayers of the Faithful and choosing hymns which were appropriate to the Sunday readings. Other new ventures were the carol service and readings before Midnight Mass.


The ministry of Eucharistic Ministers was introduced into the parish in 1977. The first to be commissioned was Mrs Anne Stevens and by 2004 there were 36 Eucharistic Ministers (including those who take the Eucharist to the sick and housebound).


In 1993 Fr Alan Roberts appointed Nan Hurdle as the first Liturgy Coordinator to the parish.


From about 1995 a Thanksgiving Mass has been celebrated annually to thank God for all those involved in any parish ministry duties. A year later an annual Memorial Mass was introduced for relatives and friends of deceased parishioners.


About 1996 Noreen Malone first convened a religious articles stall stocked from Pleroma Supplies.


A time and talent survey is now run every 2 years, for parishioners to indicate areas where they would like to be involved within the parish. Trish Williams convened the first prayer link in 2000. By 2001 an Anointing Mass was firmly established on a quarter year basis.


In 2002 a book for prayer was placed in the side chapel. This book invites written prayer requests from and for those visiting the chapel.


Passionist Family Groups


Greg and Ann Murphy from Otaki consulted with the Parish Council and Fr Bruce England, and asked John and Anne Hayward to co-ordinate the groups in Levin. They started in March 1997 and consisted of five groups of approximately thirty-five people per group. The total is now about two hundred.


Marriage Encounter


This was started by Ted and Lola Hoult and was run from the Convent of the Good Shepherd at Te Horo in 1981. It was then run from the Cenacle in Palmerston North. It enabled married couples to spend time together in a neutral environment with expert support to review their married lives and commit them to the future. Weekends involving engaged couples were also a feature of this group.


Social Justice Committee


This was formed in 1992 at the behest of Fr Alan Roberts, in response to the express wish of Cardinal T. Williams that parishes within the Archdiocese should consider the need for such a group. Basically every member of our church is challenged to address the injustices in society, in our nation and in the world.


The Social Justice Committee, led by John Scott of our parish, was asked to assist in providing community service work opportunities for people sentenced from the local District Court. This led to an invitation to set up a group focussing on the problems of family violence. The Horowhenua Family Violence Intervention programme now functions as a stand-alone organisation in Horowhenua. It meets the needs of any person in Otaki, Shannon, Feilding and Levin, who is referred from the Police, Solicitors in the Family Court, or for self-referrals. Some Parishioners are involved in administering the programme, but it is truly a community programme. The Social Justice Committee records its delight that the programme has developed so well.


As a committee we have had generous backing from parishioners whenever a need is exposed. Each week, over many years there is regular support of the local food bank. Whenever major world disasters occur, our parishioners dig deep. Rwanda and Zaire come quickly to mind as well as the Lenten Appeals, Bishops Christmas Appeal and other special occasions. Parishioners donated three thousand dollars over a four-week period so that we might give practical assistance to three homeless families, to help them own their own home.


We are challenged to read the signs of the times, to consider what needs to be done, how it can be done and get on and do it.


Music in the Parish


As in many Catholic parishes around the world music has always been part of our way of worshipping and paying tribute. For us locally it has also been in many forms, from the Great Missa Cantata to the Samoan Mass. Who of our age will forget those beautiful masses by the great composers, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, to St Cecilia, St John and many others, all prior to the change when Gregorian Chant became the common mode.


Then came the break up of the parish choirs for the purpose of encouraging the entire congregation to sing during Mass, and later the formation of the new type choirs where the guitar and the piano came into use. This meant the congregation could sing together and has always done so.


I remember how we could all sing in Latin, 0 Salutaris Hostia, Tantum Ergo and the Adoremus at Benediction, and also chant in reply to the priest's intonations. We sang with great gusto - Faith of Our Fathers, Hail Glorious Saint Patrick, Soul of My Saviour, and many others. Outside of our religious ceremonials, music was always part of our parish life whether at school concerts in the hall on St Patrick's Day, or in the old Grand Hotel with green drapes, where we drank green beer, and ate green bread. And those two great singers Jimmy and Eileen O'Neill led and encouraged us to join in. The Sisters of St Joseph were always very much part of our music development. Sisters Celine, Cyprian, Julian and others taught our piano players.


Going back to the origins of the Parish in Poroutawhao, then part of the Palmerston North parish, very little is known of what place music had in their liturgy. When the Marists from Otaki took over in 1904 it would be difficult not to presume some framework for providing a choral background in the newly built church of St Andrew in Mako Mako Road. We can recall the name of the organist Ellen Gimblett with those who were part of the earlier choir. Eileen Bradley (organist through the 1940's), Jude Ryder, Gwen Hesp, and a very young Noelene Cardno were among other singers of note.


Coming into the picture in the early fifties we find the names of John Nees and Keith Jackson. They were still involved when the new church was built in Weraroa Road and the old organ was brought from Mako Mako Road. A flurry of fund raising saw a new organ purchased at a good discount from Joe Barnao and installed in the choir loft. Many will remember the dynamism of Mons Heavey in those fundraising efforts.


By 1959 Keith and John had moved on and the choir was in the very capable hands of Joan Whelan with Donna McClellan as our organist. It was the days of the revival of the Gregorian chant. To be part of a choir that could pay tribute well was very satisfying, through the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, under the firm control of our choir mistress who was schooled in her craft at St Mary's College. Then there were the responses with individuals like George Lomas singing the Propers at the appropriate places; those wonderful solos. The Panis Angelicus sung by a member of the choir or an invitee like Helen Ryder. It was really put into perspective when Mons Heavey was the celebrant who could intone in a voice that was made for this very purpose.


Other organists who followed during the period were Kay Griffin and George Hannah. The choir itself contained some old parish names but it was well balanced between the more mature and the young. They included Jude Ryder, Noelene Cardno, Mabel Owen, George Lomas, John Ellery, John Casey and others at various times. Among our younger members were Eileen Hesp, Alison Nees, Anne Jeffries and Janet Mortiboy.


After Joan left the choir continued under George Hannah and others until it became fashionable for the congregation to sing the Mass. We well remember Father Lorrigan striding up and down the aisle exhorting us to sing.


The Logan family, who were very musically talented, played often, and a young group of teenagers played their guitars. Because this style of music was such a departure from the ‘old’ ideas, it took time to become accepted.


When the vigil Mass was started, there was very little music at the time, and Father O’Sullivan appealed for someone to play the organ at 6.30pm Mass on a Saturday evening. Pam Maher took on playing for this Mass, and went on, along with Kay Griffin, to play the organ for the next eleven years. Kay played for much longer after Pam left the Parish temporarily.


The coming of Sister John Bosco saw changes in the music. Many new hymns were learned and in accordance with Vatican ll were more appropriate for the feasts and readings of the Mass.


Sister encouraged both Pam and Kay to take lessons from Bill Gordon at the Anglican Church, and both organists benefited from his teaching. Kay played for an interdenominational service in the Anglican Church attended by Father Moosman and Monsignor Durham, as well as ministers from all the other churches.  This was one of the first big interdenominational services to be held in Levin.


Some people wanted to have Mass without music, so Father Moosman put a vote to the congregation, and it was decided that the 8am Sunday Mass would be a "quiet" Mass. But when Father Michael McCabe came, singing was brought back to all masses, with the introduction of many new hymns and the acceptance of a new style of liturgy.


A new organ was purchased which both Kay and Pam found a joy to play.


Sister Mary Dunn, from Australia, took over from Sister John Bosco, and encouraged music groups led by Linda and Adrian Praat with guitars. An overhead projector did away with the necessity of hymnbooks. This made a vast improvement to the singing as heads were raised instead of being down looking at books.


The Knights of the Southern Cross


The objects of the Order are:


  • To be an organised body of Catholic men giving entire loyalty to the Apostolic See, to the Hierarchy and to the Clergy in all things appertaining to the Catholic Faith.

  • To support members in their vocation and mission, as catholic men.

  • To work for the spiritual intellectual and material welfare of members and their families.

  • To spread the Gospel for the conversion of souls and the growth of the Church.

  • To restore all things in Christ by working for the moral and social welfare of the country.

  • To help Catholic Youth develop to "be fully mature in the fullness of Christ Himself" (Eph. 4:13).

  • To co-operate with other organisations in furtherance of the objects.

  • To achieve all these objects through Charity, Unity and Fraternity.


Those who did belong were sought by members of the Order because they were in positions where they could help carry out the intentions of the Order. Grouping of branches in each diocese was based on parishes in a local area with an appointed chaplain, usually the Parish Priest, under the authority of the Bishop.


Originally Levin was part of the Wellington branch. When Levin became a branch in its own right cannot be firmly established because a motion was passed at a committee meeting of the Order, which at that time was very secret, ordering the minutes to be destroyed.


The Knights endeavour to support the Catholic School and Parish, especially through fundraising and other good works. The Knights organised a School Gala in 2003, and assisted the School with the 2004 Gala. The Knights also organised a combined parish bazaar and art exhibition in the Durham St hall in July 2004, to raise funds for the parish.


It was evident that, with the growth of the district, the Parish Priest needed a group of professional and practical people to use as a sounding board in making his decisions regarding parish matters. Parish Councils, Finance Committees and such were still in the future. The Order could have become a glorified Parish Committee, but in the view of the Parish Priest and the Knights, it was thought better to stay in the background and help with the various organisations in the parish, e.g. Home and School Assn, St Vincent de Paul, Works committee, Holy Name Society, Planned Giving Committee, Futuna Retreat etc. etc. On a national level the Knights have been involved in the many studies of Bioethics, the Hospice Movement, the organisation of Papal visits, Eucharistic Congresses and the research carried out to gather legal and medical expertise in the battle against euthanasia.


Children of Mary Wedding 11-04-1955



Indoor Bowls


Indoor Bowls began in 1954 under the patronage of Rev. Monsignor Heavey. The first president was Mr R. A. Frederiksen, Secretary E. Condell and twenty-seven members. It was originally a closed Catholic Club, but in the sixties, due to a downturn in membership, it became an open club. It meets on Tuesday evening, and recently celebrated its Ruby Anniversary. It still participates in the centre championships and the Tararua Interclub competition, and has a membership of twenty-six.


Saint Josephs Tennis Club


This was begun in 1935 and was also a closed Catholic Club playing against other Catholic Clubs in the lower North Island. After the Second World War, it flourished, and became an open club. Two courts were built in 1947, one more built in 1948 and a tennis pavilion was built in 1950 in the school grounds. It remained functional until the late seventies when it went into recess. Two classrooms now stand where the pavilion once was.


Saint Josephs Old Girls Basketball

Figure 6 - St Josephs Old Girls Basketball (outdoor) Team

Members of the above team about 1955 - 1957 were left to right: Adair Whelan, Norma Bignall, Ngaire McMinn, unnamed, Mona Timu, Erin Harvey, Thérèse Quinn, Lorna Hickey.


Celtic Rugby Club


This flourished from the late forties until it went into recess in 1954 - 55. Its members played in the senior Horowhenua Rugby Union competitions. When the club wound up the money was given to the Horowhenua Rugby Football Union and the last recipients of the awards kept the cups.


Table Tennis Club


This was established in 1956, but went into recess in 1960.


Scout Group


The Scout Group was established in 1934 under the auspices of the St Vincent de Paul Society. The time of its demise is not recorded.

basketball team.jpg

Members of the above team about 1955 - 1957 were left to right: Adair Whelan, Norma Bignall, Ngaire McMinn, unnamed, Mona Timu, Erin Harvey, Thérèse Quinn, Lorna Hickey.



Elsie Ryder


Elsie was a member of our parish since her teenage years. She married Dick Ryder in 1932 and immediately became involved in parish life. Elsie was involved with the school from the late 1930's to the late 1950's, assisting in various aspects of school life - she also supported Dick during his years on the school committee and church committee. Both spouses were deeply involved in raising funds for our present church and other parish buildings. It is impossible to estimate the numbers of hours of work, baking, jams, raffles and meat and stock donated during this period. They also donated our beautiful Holy Family stained glass window in our church.


Elsie was a long time member of the St Josephs tennis club, always ready to assist where and when required. Dick and Elsie both worked hard for the Celtic Rugby Club and the indoor bowling club. Until she gave up her license at age 91 years, Elsie was always available to transport parishioners and others to Palmerston North hospital, doctors' appointments, shopping or just visiting. Until the Sisters obtained a car, Elsie was their regular chauffeur.


St Vincent de Paul Society was yet another service organisation Elsie belonged to, and when they opened the Opportunity Shop it benefited from her service for sometime. The Catholic Women's League had a stalwart member in Elsie from its inception. Levin Racing Club was a community organisation that both Elsie and Dick contributed many years to, especially during Dick's years as President when Elsie's support and behind the scenes work was so important.


Elsie was also a reader when this was inaugurated as a lay service but the ultimate for her was when she was asked to become a Eucharistic Minister. She felt this was a great privilege. Meals on Wheels were another long-time service and she was still delivering "to the oldies" up to when she was eighty-eight or eighty-nine.


Besides her unstinting service to our parish and community over more than sixty years, perhaps Elsie's greatest attribute was her sympathetic ear and her ability to empathise with both young and old. Thank you Elsie.


George and Beatrice Gimblett


George was born on the farm at Gladstone Road in May 1920. Beatrice was born in November 1921 and moved to Levin at the age of 10 years. They were married in 1946 when George returned from the war and continued with their commitment to the parish - then St Andrews.


Although there were no Children of Mary or other church activities for ladies in the parish at the time, Beatrice was always held up as a great example to the young ladies of the parish.


George was a member of the Holy Name Society, and when the Knights of the Southern Cross Society was formed in the 1950's he was an early member of that prestigious organisation. George was on the Church Committee and Finance Committee and was looked to by the parish priests as a valuable advisor as well as an enthusiastic worker for the parish. Beatrice's support and behind the scenes work, was always acknowledged by school and parish in those early days.


The building of the hall, church and presbytery were busy times for this inexhaustible couple, with galas, stock drives, and all the other fundraising and organising that was needed at that time. When building was being done in the parish - be it the parish buildings or the first additions to the school - George's tractor spent more time on parish property than on the farm in Gladstone Road! Shifting the old St Andrews church to Waitarere was another project in which Beatrice and George were heavily involved.


Catholic Women's League was a top priority for Beatrice when it commenced and for many years she did the mission parcels. Beatrice also donated her talent as a flower arranger to the parish for a long time with flowers mainly from her own garden.


George and Beatrice's garden was developed and opened to the public always at no cost. Local organisations such as Lions, Save the Children Fund and schools also took advantage of their generosity for fundraising "Garden Walks." The Levin Dairy Company benefited from George's attributes. As a couple they were involved with Meals on Wheels in the wider community.


George started the St Josephs indoor Bowling Club and although Beatrice was left at home with the children on club nights, her sponge drops were EXPECTED and appreciated for suppers. Another community organisation George was instrumental in getting started, is the now very strong Levin Historic Society.


St Josephs School was always close to the Gimblett's hearts and George attended working bees. His skills were frequently being called on by the Sisters to build something or organise something for the school, especially during the 1950's and 60's when their children were pupils. Beatrice also contributed more than her "fair share" to school life but nothing was ever a burden to them - anything to lighten the load of the clergy or sisters was a delight for them.


Transport to and from Mass and parish activities was yet another service provided by this couple. If it involved work or service in the parish you can guarantee the Gimbletts were involved; as in 1970 when George was chairman of the organising committee of the 50th Jubilee.


Beatrice died in March 2002, and George died in April 2002. Thank you Beatrice and George for a lifetime of devoted commitment to our parish!


Nola Corbett


(These are notes taken from a nomination form in 1999 for honouring our older Parishioners)


A wonderful mother and wife, helped with the family business. Also looked after the Parish Priests with meals. She was a staff member for several years looking after our children at St Joseph's School. After that was a relieving teacher. Nola was an initiator of C.C.D classes, and also worked on the Home and School Committee and the Catholic Women's League. She helped Monsignor Heavey on shop day once a fortnight, and supplied flowers for the sisters. Nola is well known for being able to get anything one needs for a floral arrangement from around Levin's town and country gardens.


Nola answered a call from the Sisters to help with Church Flowers in February 1975, and kept this wonderful work up until November 1998, when a TKO from a school child on the run in the playgrounds put a stop to it.


Nola is a much-loved member of our community who makes many house calls to the sick and lonely. Hospital visits, meals on wheels, baking and jam maker. Oh that jam! Just as well it was for pleasure or Craigs would have had stiff competition. She was a member and also on the Committee of the Levin Rose Society and a Founder member of the Horowhenua Floral Art and Garden Club.


A teacher in all aspects to the beginner she always shared her talents. The 1999 A.G.M. of the Horowhenua Floral Art and Garden Club, paid tribute to their Patron (yes another honour for our Nola) with "This is Your Life Nola Corbett." What a surprise! It was the clubs best kept secret, a night filled with love, laughter, tears, letters and friends from around N.Z. and overseas. Every trophy in the Club has the name Nola Corbett on it, many more than once. So this lady's generous and caring nature, willingness to help others and her dedicated love of floral art makes me wonder if older Parishioner makes you eligible Nola as you often say: "I think I am past my use by date, but still a spring chicken."




Lord grant that in some way it may rain everyday

Say from midnight to three o'clock in the morning

But see it must be gentle and warm so it can soak in

Grant that at the same time

It would not rain on the cherry blossom trees

Or the wisteria, lilacs and others

Which you know in your wisdom

Delight in fine weather while at their best

Grant that the sun may shine all day long

But not on the spirea, lily of the valley

Gentians, rhododendrons and azaleas

And I pray that there may be plenty of dew and little wind

Enough worms, no plant lice or no mildew

And once a week thin liquid manure may fall from Heaven. Amen.


We thank you Lord for garden's flowers, beauty and love, and people like Nola Corbett.


Edward (Ted) Griffin


Born in 1926 in New Plymouth, the only son of Ellen and William Griffin, Ted had a sister Mary who died in her twenties. An Aunt Daisey Best reared Ted after his mother died when he was only nine months old.


He started his working life with a job on a dairy farm and dairying was to be his career. Later he met up with Kay Malone of Riverlea and they were married in 1955. They then came to a farm owned by Miss Fitzgerald in Tararua Road, Levin. Life would not have been easy for Kay and Ted in those early years but Ted, who was a strong man, enjoyed the lifestyle and with Kay's help greatly improved the farm.


The writer was fortunate to be farming just across the road from Ted and Kay, and we had 20 years of happy memories of things that we had in common, such as farming, children of about the same ages and our religion. Ted had a great interest in sport and was a keen rugby player in his youth.


In about 1980 Ted & Kay decided they wanted a change of direction in life and they bought a house in Carlisle Street and retired from farming. The St Josephs Convent School quickly employed Ted as caretaker, a job he was well suited to with his pleasant manner and sense of humour. He turned out to be a great favourite with the children and teachers alike.


Ted was selected for mention in this book for his happy uncomplicated approach to life and in some ways he was a leader who "pushed from the middle" rather than led from the front. A working bee with Ted present always ended up happily.


The priests of the parish well remember him as the willing altar "boy" when no one else was available. He will be remembered for lighting up his pipe when he needed a rest and he would sooner have an ice cream than a glass of beer.


He was a much-valued member of the Knights of the Southern Cross for many years, and was a member of the Griffin, Carmody, Powell and Duffy "gang" who would build and paint anything that needed doing within the church properties. The gang included many other names too numerous to mention.


Ted succumbed to cancer on the October 8 1994, after a brave fight and is survived by Kay and their five children and many grandchildren. His last words before he died were "I'm on my way" and I am sure he knew where he was going.


(Contributed by P. M. Daly)


Tom and Pam Maher


Tom and Pam were COVS personnel in Jamaica September 1996 to September 1998.


January 1996 we went to an Orientation Week with the Catholic Overseas Volunteer Service (COVS) to see if we really did want to go overseas on voluntary service.


In July of that year, the Director of COVS received a letter from Bishop Paul Boyle of the Mandeville Diocese of Jamaica asking if they would consider sending volunteers to work for him. Previously COVS had only worked in the Pacific area. However, Bishop Boyle was most persuasive and the upshot of it all was that we were invited to go to Jamaica for a period of two years.


We had to pay our own fare over, so we set about earning the money. The Parish took up a collection and at our Commissioning gave us a cheque for a very substantial amount of money, which was to be an enormous help to us during our time away. Although we received a stipend for our work, and we were never hungry, the amount of the stipend did not enable us to live in the lap of luxury.


Tom’s job was mainly to be a Mr Fixit. Whenever anything went wrong - the water tanks blocked, the toilet wouldn’t flush, doors or windows wouldn’t open or close and a million other little things that went constantly wrong, Tom was the man they called on. He also made shelves and blackboards for the schools, and any other thing that the teachers asked him to do. He was building overseer for the Diocese and kept an eye on all the building work - schools, presbyteries, alterations and extensions - that went on. He was liaison officer between the American volunteers and the Jamaican work force. He slowed his pace to tropical and bore the frustrations with a grin.


My job was a little different. Sometimes I acted as receptionist in the Pastoral Centre. Sometimes I was Girl Friday. I seemed to be the only person who could get the very new swept-up photocopier the Diocese had had donated to it to work - mainly because I was the only one who read the instructions. All tricky photocopying - plans, specifications, maps and such like was my job. I also saw to it that personnel had the materials they needed for their work. I gave talks on budgeting. I photocopied, thousands of times, begging letters written by the financial people and sent them out to people in the United States of America, after I had put the Bishops signature stamp neatly on all of them. I sent out over 30,000 begging letters in the two years we were there, and the results were fantastic.


The main job was getting the money from sponsors and seeing it was properly distributed. The sponsorship was called Christian Foundation For Children and Aged (CFCA) and was based in Kansas, and sponsored aged people as well as children. I had several areas which each had a person in charge. I would make out the cheques for each area, and after the Bishop had signed them, would see that the person in charge got them, did the right things with the money and reported back to me with their details, which I would co-ordinate and send back to Kansas.  I checked one area thoroughly each month, helped distribute food parcels, made decisions about what they could or could not do with the money, checked that what they said they were going to do with it was done. I saw to it that the letters - three per year - from the children to their sponsors were written on time and sent to Kansas for on sending to their sponsors, helped the elderly write their letters, took the yearly photos of each child or person to send to their sponsors, bought and distributed the Christmas presents and made sure everyone got a birthday present. This job took me way out into the hinterland where I was highly involved in the living conditions of the appallingly poor.


When it came time to come home, we both found it very hard to say goodbye to the people we had worked with, the friends we had made, and the Jamaicans who seemed to think we were their gift from God. I can assure you that the two people who came back were not the two people who went away.



The history of the Parish over the last 80 years reflects the changes of the Levin area together with the economic, social and cultural changes of the country as a whole.


There are three main periods in the Parish History.


1.             1920 to the late 1940's - Levin was a rural service centre of around 2000 - 4000 population. The St. Andrews parishioners were a close-knit group of mainly working class level with a small number of farmers. The period covered a severe Depression and the Second World War with all its problems.


2.             1950's to the early 1970's - Postwar development saw the population of Levin increase 300% to approx 12,000 with the influx of skilled workers changing Levin to a light industrial town. This put an enormous strain on the small Catholic Community with its limited resources. In 1953 Mons Heavey, the Parish Priest gave a list of the works planned to cope with the increase of Catholics:


  • Presbytery

  • Second new church

  • Hall

  • Secondary school


In the Chronicle newspaper of 9.4.58 it was announced that a new school was to be built in Bartholomew Rd, a section in Queenwood Rd was allocated for the new church and presbytery and a new secondary school was to be built within five years on Rugby Park.


By 1968 there were at least six Masses on a Sunday at 7, 9, 10.30am, and 7pm. Masses were also celebrated 7.30am at Levin East School, and 9am at Waitarere Beach.


Fr Callaghan gave the following figures:

Baptisms                                                                               69

Catholic Pupils at State primary schools                         290

Catholic Pupils at Convent school                                   210

Catholic Pupils at Secondary schools                              120

Catholic Population                                                            2,265


However, he warned there had been a drop of one hundred people attending Mass between 1966 and 1968. The planned second church and school etc. did not proceed.


3.             1970's to year 2000 - The changing pattern of Levin's infrastructure i.e. the closing down and transfer of light industry, the changing nature of the town to a "retirement" area etc., had its effect on the parish. This, coupled with social changes, loss of the nuns and a reduced number of priests have all contributed to a downsizing of the parish. However, the spirit, which founded the Parish in 1920, is as strong as ever and ready to face whatever the next 80 years will bring.

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